The still voice and the loud noises

Every week there are contrasts in the life and experiences of most MPs. My working assumption is that I am average. Like other average people, I can be most effective by asking others to help and by being available to help others.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

Most leaders, in the private sector and also in public services, want to guide their colleagues to work together ethically and successfully. Some leaders do not know what their first line supervisors need to know.

With fellow officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sex Equality, I heard on Tuesday of the problems staff can experience in forms of sexual harassment in offices and factories by colleagues, and in shops additionally by customers.

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One woman asked the manager of a well-respected popular shop for protection. It became clear the manager either did not have the insight or did not know he had the authority and the responsibility to end the pestering.

I suggested the group chief executive should be asked to lead a seminar on the issues. That way, the entire organisation might become a model that others should follow, and the chief executive might wish to check what happens in their own organisation. No one should go to work fearful of improper unacceptable behaviour.

MPs also heard from the Financial Times writer Madison Marriage who exposed the scandals of the Presidents Club charity party where women recruited to be hostesses were groped, subjected to lewd comment and worse.

|Also in the news - a Worthing man has said he has been left ‘devastated’ and ‘dumbfounded’ after the body of his cat was handed in by a mysterious stranger; a Worthing man who said he has been barred from The Three Fishes pub wants to know why he is banned from his favourite watering hole; and staff and pupils at a Worthing school are celebrating the result of a successful Ofsted inspection|

They were required to sign non-disclosure contracts in advance by the organisers. Worse, after publication of her scoop, the journalist was trolled and felt threatened.

Edited news prepared by trained journalists is vital to our society. Until recent years, no European journalist had been killed on European land.

When MPs rightly object to people harassing our colleague Anna Soubry, we should remember the abuse faced by investigative journalists and the dangers experienced by members of the blue-light services.

These include natural risks for mountain rescue and RNLI crew, in addition to the unknowable events that could face an ambulance, fire or police responder to a 999 call, or a social worker visiting a family home during a crisis.

Across the constituency and in others, there are daily encounters that can be life-changing – often but not always for the better. While reflecting on those who help in times of need, I think also of the teacher and the ministers of religion, including chaplains who cooperate in hospital and hospice and after deaths to assist in practical and counselling support to family and survivors.

On Saturday, I was with public-spirited residents in Rustington. We reflected on the worthwhile contributions of local councillors and the contributions of those who work with them.

Additionally, I have been trying to help sustain and develop the family doctor services. A pleasant exchange with a doctor, one of those I most admire, reminded each of us why we give our lives day after day to helping to make our society better – not just by great schemes but by being attentive to details and by avoiding unnecessary hiccoughs.

Many of the tasks taken on by my team and by me are triggered nowadays by one simple email. These are too often obscured by procured blizzards of campaigning groups who should know I have already given my support. Let us hope they learn moderation and gain understanding.

My last experiences before ending this have been reading St Paul’s third chapter to Ephesians, declaring the good news to gentiles as much as to Jews.

That was followed by a breakfast talk about Sat7, the group of channels by and for people in the Middle East, aiding education, women’s opportunities and making the gospel available in Arabic, Turkish and Farsi in the lands where Christianity developed from a small group to a world influence, without shouting.


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